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Written Answers
24 January 2001
Volume 621

Written Answers

Wednesday, 24th January 2001.

Motor Vehicle Exports To Eu

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What percentage of United Kingdom gross domestic product is accounted for by exports of motor vehicles and components to the European Union. [HL355]

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The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from the National Statistician, Len Cook, dated 23 January 2001.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent question on exports of motor vehicles and components to the EU as a proportion of GDP (HL355).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) collects information on exports of motor vehicles and components through the Intrastat survey administered by HM Customs & Excise.

In 1999, exports of motor vehicles and other components to the European Union were 1.4 per cent of GDP (which is a net concept; in particular, it is net of imports).

Crime Reduction Targets

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asked Her Majesty's Government:How many of the annual performance targets set for the reduction of crime and the protection of the public were (a) met, or (b) unmet, in each of the most recent three years for which statistics are available. [HL292]

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Targets for government departments were introduced under the Comprehensive Spending Review and published in the White Paper, Public, Services for the Future: Modernisation, Reform, Accountability, in December 1998.Progress against each of the targets set for the Home Office is summarised below.

Home Office TargetProgress at end September 2000 unless otherwise stated
To reduce vehicle crime by 30% within five years.3% reduction already achieved by June 2000.
An improvement in police efficiency of 2% a year.Best Value plans in place for all forces.
Launch the new evidence based crime redaction programme.18 of 19 initiatives underway. The last is being finalised.

Home Office Target

Progress at end September 2000 unless otherwise stated

Tackle domestic violence through a range of practical measures including increasing public awareness, improving agencies" response and developing an information base.Police circular issued May 2000 and successful Crime Reduction Programme bids announced June 2000.
Agree an annual target, with the UK Anti Drugs Coordinator, for the police to ensure efficient and effective action against drug suppliers.Targets for enforcement agencies published in the UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator's National Plan. Data for the number of offenders dealt with for supply of Class A drugs presently being analysed. 9.2% more Class A trafficking groups were disrupted in 1999–2000 than in the previous year (target 5%).
Publish survey results on levels of fear of crime and set targets for improvement in specific areas.British Crime Survey (BCS) shows there has been a fall in fear of three main categories of crime, significantly for violent crime.
Reduce the time taken from arrest to sentence or other disposal.A targeted reduction of two days from charge was achieved by 31 March 2000; a new target will be quantified by 31 March 2001. Data is being collected from charge until electronic data collection is introduced across the Criminal Justice System.
Reduce the time taken from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders from 142 days to 71 days.Time has reduced to average of 92 days for quarter to 30 June 2000.
Improve the satisfaction levels of victims and witnesses with their treatment in the CJS.The target has been set to improve satisfaction by five percentage points by March 2001.
Reduce the number of terrorist incidents securing effective well co-ordinated and proportionate anti-terrorist policies.Terrorism Act passed July 2000.
Prepare new UK-wide anti-terrorism legislation.Terrorism Act passed July 2000.
Develop closer and more effective international cooperation to counter terrorism.UK signed Terrorist Funding Convention and Bombing Convention, which are ratified by Terrorism Act.
Increase the percentage of identified crime groups: under investigation; in respect of which arrests have been made; in respect of which prosecutions have been brought; and which have been dismantled.Organised Crime Notification Survey successfully launched September 2000. Target of 10% increase in three year period commencing 2001–02.
Ensure that the two-year reconviction rate for those receiving commnity sentences remains below the rate predicted for those offenders.National target published in Public Service Agreement in July 2000.
Reduce the reconviction rate for persistent young offenders.Target set to reduce rate of reconviction of all Young Offenders by 5% by 2004 compared to predicted race.

Home Office Target

Progress at end September 2000 unless otherwise stated

Improve supervision programmes run by the National Probation Service and prison regimes that require offenders to face up to their offending behaviour, and introduce a system of independent accreditation covering probation as well as prison programmes.National roll-out begun of first programme, accredited in December 1999. Three other programmes went to accreditation panel in September, roll-out for training from November 2000.
Double the number of completions of accredited offender behaviour programmes (OBP) from 3,000 to 6.000 a year by 2001–02, including an increase from 680 to 1,100 in those completing sex offender programmes (SOTP).1,572 OBP to 83 STOP completions by August 2000. 45% more completions than same time period in 1999.
Reduce the proportion of discharged prisoners who are at Lvl 1 or below for literacy and numeracy skills by 15% by April 2002.Latest figures show a slight decrease in proportion of discharged prisoners below or at level 1. Remedial action is in place with the Education contractors.
Reduce the rate of positive random drug tests from 20% target in 1998–99 to 16% in 2001–02; and to provide access to voluntary drug testing for all prisoners by April 2001.Current level is 12.8%.
Pilot Drug Treatment and Testing Orders; provide treatment for problem drug users in prison which is then followed through under post-release supervision; increase number of offenders entering treatment programmes as a result of arrest referral schemes and post-release supervision.Following successful pilots, DTTOs rolled out early, in October 2000.
Circular and information video issued to courts. No escapes of Category A prisoners year to date.
Maintain existing performance of no escapes by high risk prisoners; and the overall rate of escapes from prison to be no higher than 0.17% of average prison population.No escapes of Category A prisoners year to date.
Figures for other escapes show the level at 0.03%, performance is better than target.
Promote race equality and develop new indicators to measure improvement.Series of measures developed and in use.
Set targets by June 1999 to increase the number of people from ethnic minorities in HO and its services.Targets published.
Increase the quantity and quality of people's involvement in their community and ensure fulfilment of the vision of the Giving Age.Five demonstration projects established within local communities delivering agreed work programmes. Baselines produced.
Incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.Human Rights Act given Royal Assent October 2000.

Home Office Target

Progress at end September 2000 unless otherwise stated

Improve the level of public confidence in the democratic process, through the introduction of PR for European elections; by legislating for the registration of political parties; by introducing a new system of controls on political party funding; and by carrying out a review of electoral procedures and making recommendations during 1999.Legislation to regulate political party funding given Royal Assent in November 2000.
Introduce legislation providing for freedom of information.Human Rights Act given Royal Assent October 2000 and Freedom of Information Act, November 2000.
Reduce the time taken to final decision of asylum applications to six months by April 2001.White Paper published in July 1998 set out Government's commitment to make initial decisions in most new asylum cases within two months and most appeals to be heard by an adjudicator within a further four months by April 2001. This target is already achieved for families with children.
The Home Office and the Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD) are working together to achieve these targets. The Home Office is on course to decide 70% of new substantive asylum cases within two months by April 2001. The LCD's PSA target is to deal with appeals to an adjudicator in an average of four months. The Immigration Appellate Authority is on course to meet this target for 2000–01.
Reduce fire-related deaths in the home by 20% by 31 March 2003, from an average starting point of 380 a year.Deaths reduced to 315 this year compared to target of 303 by 2003.
Reduce the number of fires by 31 March 2002 to a level lower than that currently projected on long-term trends (projected levels; 608,100 pa–633,500 pa).467,900 fires in 99/00 compared to predicted rate of 587,000.
Improve fire service efficiency by 2% a year.On course, estimated £18.5 million saving.

Shotgun Certificates: Requirement To Show Good Reason

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will provide details of all cases in the last five years in which chief officers of police have been compelled by existing law to grant shotgun certificates to persons whom they believe did not have a good reason for acquiring or possessing a shotgun; whether any danger to public safety has arisen from any of these cases; and if such information is not held centrally, whether they will take steps to do so. [HL295]

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This information is not recorded centrally and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. We have asked the Firearms Consultative Committee (FCC), the independent statutory body that advises the Government on firearms matters, to explore the issues surrounding the introduction of a requirement for shotgun certificate holders to show good reason for possessing shotguns.

Bicycle Riders: Fixed Penalty Notices

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asked Her Majesty's Government:How many fixed penalty tickets have been issued to bicycle riders over 16 years of age in the most recent 12 months for which figures are available for:

  • (a) cycling on the footway;
  • (b) cycling with no lights; and
  • (c) failing to comply with automatic traffic lights. [HL337]
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    Results from a special exercise undertaken to monitor new fixed penalties introduced on 1 August 1999 in England and Wales show that 665 fixed penalty notices were issued for the offence of cycling on the footway between that date and 31 December (two police forces were unable to supply figures). Figures for offences of cycling without lights and cyclists failing to comply with traffic light signals are not available centrally.Fixed penalties are not issued to cyclists in Scotland.In Northern Ireland, 13 fixed penalties were issued to cyclists for riding without lights in 1999 and 18 in 2000; cycling on the footway and failing to comply with traffic lights are not being dealt with by way of fixed penalty.

    Firearms Legislation: Dealer's Registration Fee

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    asked Her Majesty's Government:Why under the Firearms (Variation of Fees) Order 2000 (S.I. 2000/3148) small high street gun shops are to pay the same fees as very large armament suppliers. [HL392]

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    Under Section 43 of the Firearms Act 1968, the Secretary of State may by order vary the sums payable under the Act and may make different provisions for different cases so specified. However, Section 43 makes no provision for the Secretary of State further to divide the cases set out in the Act into different categories. In particular, it does not provide for the Secretary of State to delegate to the police service a power to divide dealers into larger or smaller businesses and to charge different fees for each type of business. The fee for the grant of and renewal of a dealer's registration under the Firearms Acts has always been set at a level applying equally to all types of businesses and the present order continues this practice.

    Tank Transporter Procurement

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    asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress has been made in procuring a new tank transporter for the British Army. [HL359]

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    The Ministry of Defence has selected FASTTRAX, a consortium led by Brown & Root Ltd of Leatherhead, Surrey, to be the preferred bidder for a private-sector financed heavy equipment transporter service for the Army that will provide UK production, support and service employment opportunities for the 20 years of the contract. The Service will be based upon vehicles provided by the Oshkosh Truck Corporation of Wisconsin, USA, and King Trailers of Market Harborough, Leicestershire.The Defence Procurement Agency will now conclude its negotiations with FASTTRAX with the aim of achieving financial close and contract award by the middle of the year. This is the first programme to seek a solution under the Government's private finance initiative for an operational combat support vehicle requirement and is also one where a significant proportion of the service will be delivered using sponsored reserves.The contract value is around £300 million and will create or sustain up to 200 jobs in UK companies and sponsored reserves service units.

    Motor Industry: Collective Redundancy Notices

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    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, since 1 December 2000, they have received any notice under Section 193 of the Trade Union (Consolidation) Act 1992 from any employer engaged in the manufacture, sale or distribution of motor vehicles (or parts for such vehicles), or from any person or body controlling such an employer, that it proposes to dismiss 100 or more workers at one establishment within the following 90 days, or 20 workers at one establishment within the following 30 days; and, if so, (a) what were the terms of the notice; and (b) whether they have reminded any employer which is likely to declare such redundancies in 2001 of the criminal offence involved in a failure to give such a notice. [HL396]

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    It is not my department's practice to comment on notifications received under Section 193 of the Trade Union (Consolidation) Act 1992 unless details of those notifications have already been put in the public domain by the employers concerned, as the information may be commercially sensitive. Employers known to be contemplating making collective redundancies are, however, reminded of their obligations and of the criminal offence involved if they fail, without good reason, to meet them.

    Depleted Uranium Exposure: Screening Programme

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    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will provide the same screening and other health related measures for United Kingdom civilian citizens who may have been exposed to depleted uranium, wherever that may have occurred, as is provided for military personnel who served in the former Yugoslavia. [HL318]

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    The Government consider that the health risks from exposure to depleted uranium to United Kingdom military personnel and civilians who have served in the Balkans are very low. Nevertheless, steps are being taken to identify an appropriate screening programme for these groups. The Ministry of Defence will be seeking the views of the UK National Screening Committee in developing proposals. The nature and scope of such a screening programme has yet to be determined. Recently the Department of Health has sent a circular to medical practitioners covering advice from the Ministry of Defence on how to manage patients who might present to general practitioners or hospital specialists for advice.Any individuals who are concerned about their health because of possible exposure to depleted uranium for any reason should, of course, seek medical advice.

    Neo-Natal Hearing Screening

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    asked Her Majesty's Government:Why they need a pilot programme to assess the implementation of a neo-natal screening programme for children; and [HL372]Whether they will initiate an immediate universal neo-natal screening programme for deafness in children, in view of the damage caused by late diagnosis. [HL373]

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    The UK National Screening Committee advised the Government that universal neo-natal hearing screening (UNHS) provided a more effective and efficient screen to help detect permanent hearing loss in children. However, it pointed out that there were many practical issues to be resolved in changing from an infant distraction test to UNHS.To ensure that UNHS can be introduced to high quality, consistent standards, these changes will be piloted first in 20 health authority areas. The lessons from the pilots will help inform and plan a national implementation.